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Honouring war-time worship

Local

Two small but precious books – a bible presented to members of the United States Army by President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1941 and a pocket-size military missal from the same era – have been gifted to the Adelaide Archdiocese.

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The religious books were owned by Adelaide Cathedral parishioner Brian Clune (deceased) who fought alongside American soldiers with the 2/43rd battalion in Borneo during World War II.

His name and contact details are hand-written in both books which Brian kept in his bedside drawer. They were found by his daughter Pauline when she was sorting through her parents’ possessions after her mother died in June.

Brian and ‘Muff’ Clune were much-loved members of the Cathedral parish and St Aloysius College where they were actively involved for many years.

Brian, a monument mason and highly skilled letter cutter, died in January 2008 at the age of 85 and was buried in the Derrick Gardens cemetery for returned service personnel in Centennial Park. His army papers document that he served 1119 days of continuous service (1941-46), including 295 days in the jungles of Borneo.

The colours of the 43rd battalion were laid up in the Cathedral in 1964 and later hung above the eastern door of the Cathedral nave in a rededication ceremony organised by Archbishop Wilson and attended by current servicemen.

Pauline said the ceremony was a very special occasion for her father who was thrilled that young army personnel wanted to meet him.

“He never liked talking about the war until later in life and mum always said that a week or so before ANZAC Day his sleep pattern was terrible…it must have been horrendous,” she said.

“I remember him showing me a photo of a priest celebrating Mass on in the open with all these army guys bending on one knee.

“Maybe his faith helped him get through.”

Pauline keeps in her car the rosary beads that her father carried with him during the war and wears his medals to the ANZAC Eve Mass held in the Cathedral every year.

Brian broke his leg in an accident during the war and several bouts of malaria left him weak and thin.

He met Katherine (Muff) before the war and wrote to her regularly from Borneo. They married on his return and had four children – Kate, Brian, Pauline and Marie.

Pauline said Archbishop Wilson’s deep interest in military history had prompted her to speak with him about the copy of the New Testiment and the military missal. The Archbishop was very supportive and wanted people to know about them through The Southern Cross.

Together with other historic missals belonging to Brian and Muff, the books will be stored in the Adelaide Archdiocese Archives.

 

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